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Traditional TV has undergone a series of increases in costs which has often led to streaming platforms either raising prices, or removing channels. This evening, Spectrum has opted to black out all ESPN and Disney channels for subscribers amid a dispute with the “House of Mouse” which has led to YouTube TV getting a moment in the spotlight.

This evening, Spectrum (owned by Charter) started blacking out all Disney-owned channels, such as ESPN, ABC, FX, National Geographic, Disney Channel, Freeform, and more. Customers are, when trying to tune into these channels, seeing a banner that doesn’t say channels are inaccessible, but rather informs customers that Disney is “demanding an excessive increase” in programming costs.

On a landing page, Spectrum explains:

The Walt Disney Company has removed their programming from Spectrum which creates hardship for our customers.

We offered Disney a fair deal, yet they are demanding an excessive increase. They also want to limit our ability to provide greater customer choice in programming packages forcing you to take and pay for channels you may not want.

Spectrum is on your side and fighting to keep costs down while protecting and maximizing customer choice. The rising cost of programming is the single greatest factor in higher cable TV prices, and we are fighting hard to hold the line on programming rates imposed on us by companies like Disney.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

As a result of the sudden and (mostly) unexpected blackout, it’s Google’s YouTube TV that has started trending across Twitter/X and other platforms as an alternative to Spectrum. As it stands today, YouTube TV still has full access to Disney channels, including the affected ESPN channels. Though, notably, YouTube TV also had a brief dispute with Disney, which saw ESPN and other Disney-owned channels go dark for a couple of days before returning.

The blackout of ESPN especially led to quite a bit of rage as the blackout occurred right as week one of the college football season began, with ESPN having tonight been broadcasting the Florida vs Utah game which started right as the blackout took effect.

The full list of impacted Disney-owned channels on Spectrum includes:

  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN Deportes
  • ESPN News
  • SEC Network
  • ACC Network
  • Longhorn Network
  • FX
  • FX Movie Channel
  • FXX
  • Freeform
  • National Geographic
  • Nat Geo Wild
  • Nat Geo Mundo
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney Junior
  • Disney XD
  • BabyTV
  • ABC7 Chicago
  • ABC7 Los Angeles
  • ABC7 New York
  • ABC7 San Francisco
  • ABC11 Raleigh-Durham
  • ABC13 Houston
  • ABC30 Fresno

Oh hell no. Wtf Spectrum? You are about to F around and find out real quick what it’s like to lose customers en masse. You simply don’t mess with college football on opening damn night. YouTube TV here we come.

— Matt Barcus (@MattBarcus) September 1, 2023

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney says:

We’ve been in ongoing negotiations with Charter Communications for some time and have not yet agreed to a new market-based agreement. Disney Entertainment has successful deals in place with pay TV providers of all types and sizes across the country, and the rates and terms we are seeking in this renewal are driven by the marketplace. We’re committed to reaching a mutually agreed upon resolution with Charter and we urge them to work with us to minimize the disruption to their customers.

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ESPN and Disney channels go dark on Spectrum; YouTube TV trends as alternative

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